Tahiti ~ Queen of the Pacific (Society Islands)
Throughout the years Tahiti has been known as the Land of Double Rainbows, The Beloved Island, The Isle of Illusion and the Isle of Love. No matter what you decide to call her, I think all can agree Tahiti is the most famous island in the South Seas – making her the Queen of the Pacific…
Tahiti is the largest of French Polynesia’s 118 islands and is shaped like a lopsided figure eight. The two distinct areas are called Tahiti Nui (large) and Tahiti Iti (small).
In Tahiti Nui, you will find the bustling waterfront city of Papeete alive with activity. Papeete is the capital of French Polynesia and home to government offices, police headquarters, hospitals, clinics, banks, airlines, travel agencies, boutiques and black pearl shops. It is a modern port with a population of about 70,000.
Our favorite part of Tahiti is the lesser-known Tahiti Iti. It’s about an hour’s drive from Papeete, and far away from the madness of downtown. Here you’ll find beautiful black sand beaches and a tranquil, more primitive environment.
Where is Tahiti?
Tahiti is located halfway between California and Australia and in the same time zone as Hawaii. Tahiti is only 8 hours from Los Angeles and 5 hours from New Zealand.
Tahiti offers a range accommodation including medium to large size resorts as well as simpler downtown hotels. Most properties are located in or near Papeete and are a short taxi ride away from both the airport and the cruise ship/ferry docks.
What to do
Once you understand that Papeete is not the swaying coconut fringed white sand beach you have dreamed of, you’ll be able to enjoy Papeete’s unique cosmopolitan charms. Part of the fun of Papeete is sipping a drink and people-watching at a sidewalk cafe. Or hop aboard Le Truck (the bus) and visit Le Marche (the open-air market) where you’ll find a wonderful selection of shell leis, woven hats, purses and other native handicrafts. As the sun sets, you can watch Les Roulottes (food trucks) as they set up shop along Papeete’s waterfront. This is a true Tahitian experience and should not be missed. Visit the roulottes and enjoy everything from steak and fries to Belgian waffles, chow mein and traditional Tahitian dishes.
If you have the time to venture outside of the city, you’ll find there are so many wonderful places to discover — particularly deep within the mountainous heart of the island. Our favorite part of Tahiti is the lesser-known Tahiti Iti. About an hour’s drive from Papeete, It is far away from the madness of downtown. Here you will find beautiful black sand beaches and a tranquil, more primitive environment. We highly recommend exploring the inner island of Tahiti with her waterfalls, rivers and archeological sites. You can do so via ATV, Jeep Safari’s of guided hiking excursions. The mountains of Tahiti are truly inspiring with their jagged peaks and gushing waterfalls. For those wanting to enjoy breathtaking views, a helicopter tour is the way to go!